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The worlds of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms have completely revolutionized the fitness industry. Social media has, seemingly overnight, transformed virtually every facet of how we do business in fitness. It has forever changed information access, coaching, marketing, group accountability, perceptions of ideal physiques, trends and so on.
Love it or hate it, it seems as though social media is here to stay. So, I’ve put together my Trainer Tia’s Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to combining your favorite social media platform with your fitness journey.
Do vet the accounts you follow.
Social media can be a vast resource for knowledge, motivation and accountability. These are the three biggest things that most people want from a trainer or other fitness guide. If you find the right accounts to follow (easier said than done), you can get all three of these things for free! So, how does one find the right accounts to follow? Here are some pointers on what to avoid that will help you make that determination.
First, avoid profiles trying to sell things or recruit people to sell things (read: pyramid scheme). If they are constantly giving “shoutouts,” referrals, discount codes and tags, they are probably not in it for you – this kind of user is posting to promote themselves. Be wary taking advice from people who don’t want to really help you, in the end.
Also, avoid putting a lot of stock in profiles that don’t reflect your values (i.e. if you’re a vegan bodybuilder, I’d advise against following the bodybuilders who worship the animal protein part of their process). This is different for everyone, so you’ll know when you see it. Just know it’s OK to hit unfollow.
Last, but not least, avoid thirst traps (unless you’re into that kind of thing, of course). If someone looks amazing but fails to accurately relay the details of their workout program, goals, or progress, just realize that they’re best classified as eye candy and not a fitness authority. And that’s OK too.
Don’t overwhelm your followers with nudes parading around as “progress pics.”
Let’s be real, there’s already enough of that out there. Tasteful displays of physiques are one thing, but when 80 percent of your pictures are in the same booty-popped pose with way too much skin, you’re probably not taking “progress pics” anymore.
Do ask for advice and help from your favorite fitness guides.
Again, this information is free and can go a long way. Let your favorite accounts know what you’d like to see or learn and I can almost guarantee that, if they care about their reputations, they’ll answer your questions. Give it a shot. You’re not the only one who wants to know that particular answer, I promise you.
Don’t be fooled by fool’s gold.
Meaning, don’t feel compelled to try that “amazing new ab shredder guaranteed to give you a six pack in six days” … it’s not going to work. Tag your trainer friend on the post or ask your trainer if that movement or program actually works. More than likely, it’s just another sensational marketing ploy that doesn’t actually transform your body. Remember, the old school basic movements have been around for thousands of years for a reason: because they work! This new fad, diet, juice/shake, program that looks seem too good to be true – is most likely a waste of your time. Instead, find profiles that relay the realistic amount of hard work and dedication that it takes to have an ideal physique. Remember, results take time!
Like that picture. Tag your fitness friends on something that you like. Post your story with courage and belief in yourself. With the new algorithms in social media, this will result you seeing more of what you like in your feed. It’s not like you have a finite number of “likes” that you can give out. Be liberal with your liking, it lets the platform know what you’d like to see more of. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and engage with the users you admire or the content you are interested in.
Don’t compare yourself to those heavily edited photos of perfection.
I write about this frequently because it’s so prevalent. Remember, Photoshop is an incredible editing tool that can completely alter a physique, before/after comparisons, adjust lighting, draw in shadows/cuts, slim a waist, enlarge a bicep, and much more. Many photos you see on social media are not real. Please remember this when you’re comparing yourself to anything you scroll past!
Social media has become a huge part of our daily lives, and it certainly has its own decorum. Hopefully, these Do’s and Don’ts give you a taste of how a professional sees fitness and social media working (and not working) together. In the end, though, it’s your journey so customize as you see fit.
I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.
If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.
Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.
1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.
Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.
The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.
The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.
2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.
Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.
Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.
It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.
3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.
I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.
The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).
So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.
CrossFit. Bodybuilding. Marathon running. Zumba. Yoga. Orange Theory Fitness. Local team sports. These are just the tip of the iceberg representing some of the hottest fitness trends that have emerged in recent years.
The world of fitness is an infinite landscape with endless possibilities of combinations of activities to choose from. So, how do you figure out which magical combination will work best for you and your goals?
The temperatures are rising as we draw closer to spring after a long winter and I know many of you will want to begin heating up your fitness program. Depending on how hot your motivation is (on a scale of 1 to 10) and how hot you’d like your body to be, here are three sample situations to help you pinpoint what kind of workout program it is going to take to achieve the results you’re looking for.
LUKEWARM MOTIVATION (5-7 out of 10)
man doing push upPhoto by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash
our goal: to improve/maintain basic health markers, look decent naked and feel the benefits of exercise.
What to do: anything you enjoy. Just do something, and make it consistent.
How often: 30- to 60-minute sessions three times per week (minimum).
Impact on your diet: minimal change required.
Honesty is the best policy. Don’t pretend you’re a world class athlete, and a 10 out of 10, if you’re really not. In this program, as long as you do something, you’ll probably achieve your goal. The key here is to find activities that you genuinely enjoy. If you hate the gym, don’t go. If you hate yoga, don’t go. Do what you like and start to change your habits. The only rule is that you MUST plan to do something active at least three times per week. Keep in mind that this program will produce the least noticeable/measurable results, but it also requires the least effort to maintain.
WARM MOTIVATION (8-9 out of 10)
Your goal: to burn fat, get toned and look pretty good naked.
What to do: a variety of activities, but with emphasis on weight training.
How often: 45- to 60-minute sessions four to five times per week
Impact on your diet: moderate change required.
If you’re an 8 out of 10, to me, that means that you’re ready to sacrifice some parts of your life in order to reach the goal, and you’re not allergic to hard work. Key focal points for you include working out four to five times per week at high intensity/exertion – primarily in the gym with weights. In order to take it to this level, start researching and educating yourself on what you need to do to reach this goal. This could be through reading books, searching online, talking to friends who already have fitness success or, of course, hiring a professional.
And you’ll need to start paying attention to your diet. Sorry, there’s just no way around that. Now, which diet is best for you is a question for another issue. But you’ll want to start making changes, tracking your diet (I use the free app MyFitnessPal), and seeking professional guidance either through written materials or in person. You will not achieve your goal at this point without dietary changes, PERIOD.
HOT MOTIVATION (10-11 out of 10)
Shirtless man lifting dumbbellPhoto by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash
Your goal: Whatever it takes to look and feel my best.
What to do: Exclusively weight training with some cardio.
How often: 60-minute sessions (or longer) five to six times per week.
Impact on your diet: Maximum change and discipline required.
If you are truly a 10 or 11 out of 10 and are really ready do whatever it takes to reach your fitness goals, you wont even flinch when the hard-ass trainer barks “it doesn’t matter whether you like it or not; enjoyment is irrelevant.” So don’t necessarily expect to like the program if you fall in this category. You don’t have to love the gym, but you will love the results if you stick with it. Weight training is simply one of the most efficient ways to change your look, fast and completely. So suck it up, princess. We’ll see you in the weight room.
Remember, the difficulty and expectations of your fitness program all depend on your goals. Figure out what you want, and how badly you want it, first; and then crank the heat up on your program accordingly.
With the majority of us now working at home — and really, entirely living at home — I think it’s safe to say that we’re all dealing with novel mental and physical challenges in this unprecedented time. As if self-care wasn’t hard enough for many people when the world was quasi-normal, climate change, COVID-19, and now Putin's war, have thrown a figurative atom bomb into the wellness equation.
Many of my clients have reported critical disruption to mental health, physical movement, nutrition, stress management, and other vital components of wellbeing. Let’s talk about some ways to stress less, move more, and take better care of ourselves during the virus era:
Keep your routines and schedules. It’s imperative that we all keep as close to a routine as possible right now — for things like showers and hygiene, getting dressed for work, eating and drinking at the same times, working out at the same times, etc. As an example: I am working from home right now, but I will drive around the block before “clocking in” to give my mindset an opportunity to shift into work mode. It’s a no brainer that hygiene, rituals of comfort, and basic nutrition will boost productivity, focus, and feelings of wellbeing throughout your entire day, at work and beyond.
Read or watch the news once per day and check your sources vigorously. Beware, the mountains of misinformation piling up by the second regarding the virus. You simply cannot trust hearsay of “he said, she said, I saw this new law going into effect tomorrow invoking Martial Law, etc.” Bluntly, I simply do not trust what people say verbally anymore until I’ve read it as a government mandate or an explicit CDC guideline. There is simply too much exaggeration, critical misunderstanding, and, frankly, bullshit circulating faster than the virus itself right now. Check the news once per day to get the facts; and then go about your day as normal. Think critically and check your sources.
Avoid hoarding. Does anyone understand the toilet paper hoarding? My gosh, people. Enough, already! Verified sources report that supply chains and production for essential goods is working seamlessly, and there’s no need for hoarding. Stockpiling goods produces unnecessary panic. Panic and stress are not just abstract topics — they’re biological, meaning they have serious consequences on your wellbeing. Stop the negativity where you can — and hoarding is an easy corner to cut. Shop normally, please.
Call your friends and family. Widen your e-circle. It’s indisputable science that humans are social creatures. We are not meant to be in isolation. Take advantage of the technology available right now to video with one, or several, of your favorite people all at once. Set weekly meet-ups. Play games via apps where you can see each other. Check in with your loved ones, regularly. Together, we can get through this and to the other side.
Commit yourself, fiercely, to being productive, helpful, and positive during this time. This is a choice. It is easier, and feels better, and bestows benefits on other people as well, when you emit positivity. Yes, this is a difficult situation. Yes, many people will die, and many people will go bankrupt and worse. I am not recommending burying your head in the sand and pretending we’re sliding down rainbows riding unicorns, right now. However, as a motivational professional, it’s essential that we stay determined to make the best of this situation and to help others when we can, and to work through our own negativities and adversities for the greater good.
Keep appointments with your team of mental health professionals or consider establishing one. Therapists are riding the digital wave of offerings and are more affordable and accessible than ever. If you’re struggling, reach out to a professional who can help you de-stress and cope in healthy ways.
Find a structured program to suit your goals, equipment, and skill level. Online training has never been so affordable, accessible, and effective. The best trainers in the world right now are working overtime to produce lucrative, ass-kicking workouts with little to no equipment right now. Find a routine, sign up for it (don’t just vow to follow it, add an extra layer of accountability with an actual human being), bring some friends, and get to work.
Set reminders for nutrition, hydration, and supplements. It’s tragic how easy it is right now to forget the basics, and, unfortunately, nutrition and hydration are among the first to go. As mentioned above, try to stay as much on your regular schedule as possible. And, consider setting reminders on your phone, or downloading apps to do so, to ensure that you’re taking care of yourself physically. If you’re not putting enough fuel in the tank, there’s no way your machine will perform for you when the time comes.
Prioritize your physical health to feel your best mentally, emotionally, and beyond. Embrace the new environment, skills, and challenges of your new routine. New = fun and exciting. Learn to conquer pushups, handstands, and pistol squats. Get creative with props around your house or consider starting to construct your own home gym. Attitude is everything, and the more you fight the changes right now, the harder things will be.
It’s more important than ever to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. The sooner you can find your new normal, the more quickly you’ll adapt and the faster this time period will go — for you, your loved ones, and all of us. Adapt, adjust, and move forward.